Let’s just be blunt; the Pittsburgh Penguins don’t possess a great prospect pipeline.
The Penguins have regularly been ranked near the bottom of the NHL in prospect rankings, most recently 30th by the Athletic.
One of the biggest names in the system ran into some speed bumps since signing an entry-level contract in 2019, but he may have found his way back into the NHL conversation.
Nathan Legare was once said to have the best shot in the entire organization, but needed to work on his defensive play and foot speed.
Other issues may have gotten in the way, but through the Penguins 2022 Rookie Camp and an appearance in the annual Prospects Challenge, Legare has changed his fortunes.
Legare still possesses his lethal shot, but his game in the Prospects Challenge showed that he can bring some grittiness to the lineup.
While playing against prospects from the Boston Bruins organization, Legare was mixing it up and getting involved in multiple heated scuffles.
Legare took his fair share of penalties, but also drew quite a few, making a huge difference in the outcome of the game.
Five of the Penguins six goals came with the man advantage, capitalizing on the opportunities created by Legare.
The feisty forward tacked on an insurance goal at the end of the game and made sure to stare down his opponents the entire way to his bench.
Assuming Legare has been working to improve his shot, as well as adding this new component to his game, there is no reason why he should fly back up the Penguins prospect rankings.
To be honest, before this rookie camp, Legare was likely completely off of the organization’s radar.
In 57 games with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in 2021-22, Legare only scored 16 points and was minus eight.
Blatantly, those numbers are not good enough to reach the NHL when your game is predicated on scoring.
One thing the Penguins have been missing at the NHL level is an improvement in tenacity.
If Legare can improve on his scoring in his second AHL season while continuing this new trend of getting under opponent’s skin, he should be making the jump to the NHL in no time.
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